Category Archives: memories

Life is beautiful but sometimes unbareably hard.

I watch her smile at our grand daughter.
Struggling to hold her beside her as she lies in bed.
Her daughter Sarah and my son Michaels baby.
She and I have been best friends since they were children.
My random friend
Questions like could we keep a penguin in the bath?
The kind of friends that know each other well.
Our likes and dislikes
We laugh at the same things
Don’t get me wrong we have had our disagreements.
Passionate arguments.
But when push came to shove we both knew we could always depend on the other.
Forever friends.
We would joke about riding on old people scooters
I always hoped that Sarah and Mike would get together.
I loved Donna’s kids like my own.
And last year my meddling worked.
Not how I would have planned it but here we are.
And it is what it is.
You see we hadn’t seen each other for awhile we had texted but not seen each other for a year.
I work as a soulmidwife.
Companion to terminally ill.
On my way out of the hospital ward I was visiting I saw her there Donna.
Admitted with pain she had suffered with for awhile.
She had text and bllamed it on work, pushing wheel chairs lifting patients
But after two weeks she was diagnosed.
Cancer.
We fell back into step. Like we had never been apart.
We met the week after in the park engineered to have mike and Sarah with us.
Eighteen months later they are together.
We have Emilia our beautiful granddaughter.
She is the positive light that has kept Donna fighting.
Two rounds of chemotherapy she has been amazing.
I’m in awe of how brave she is.
Two months ago we flew to Corfu.
I stood on the deck of a boat watched as she swam in the bluest of seas warm sun.
White sands her long black hair shining
She was so happy
We visited old Corfu town, sat in small seafood restaurants by the sea.
Drank cocktails. Laughed danced and sang.
We didn’t speak of cancer.
What a difference two months can make.
This is my job I deal with it all the time.
There isn’t anything I can’t deal with
But
I don’t want to deal with this
For a month she has been complaining of pain in her liver. Twice admitted
Jaundice, codine, oramorph.
More pain
I stayed over with her last night
Eyes yellow tired and scared.
Reassured her that no matter what I’m there
I promise I’m by her side.
I promise her that her sister and I will look after the kids.
I will love Emilia enough for both of us.
I will help her make memory boxes
Write birthday cards, graduation wedding, and letters.
Of course I will. I love her.
I hold her hand in mine.
She falls asleep against me.
As she sleeps I feel her breathing rise and fall
Her hair is damp from my tears.
I pull the covers around her kiss her gently
Visualise myself watching her swim and smile in the blue sea
On our next holiday in the sun

Invisible

Lunch time you don’t really see me.

Sitting by the huge school bins.

Hiding with my dog.

Hating being in school.

Listening to the dinner ladies

Spouting the same old monologue.

Angry on the inside

Quiet and shy on the out.

Screaming inside my head.

But unable to let it out.

Scared by all the feelings.

Going on inside my head.

Wanting someone to make it better.

Or wishing I was dead.

My escape is drawing, painting and writing.

Imagining a better life

A world were things are wonderful.

With no one to hurt you

Or school bullies and family strife.

A world where lumps in your throat

Don’t block the words you need to say.

Where families love each other.

In a loving normal way.

But drawing painting dreaming.

Are not going to change this world.

So I will keep this label of a rebel trouble making girl.

In a flash – back

It’s a beautiful day rainy but mild I have slept well push the kettle switch as I pass on my way to the bathroom. Nothing unusual about today.

I stand at the bathroom sink water running brushing my teeth. Outside the window the birch trees blow in the wind . It reminds me of the woodland outside my bedroom window as a child.
My heart beats a little faster and I close my eyes to stop it.

Flash and I’m back there, different bathroom black skirting boards bubbled glass window old black cistern on the wall above my head. Faded blue wallpaper flying birds peeling at the edges Old wooden bathroom cabinet cracked mirror on its door.
I stare into the mirror the crack distorts my face as it always does dark brown frightened eyes look back at me. Footsteps and creaking floorboards on the landing. I catch my breath. The black bakealite door knob twists back and forth from the other side of the door. I open my eyes look at the bright yellow toothbrush. Heart bangs even faster.
STOP! A voice says loudly. My voice.
I’m back here.
The wind is still blowing the birch trees.
The tap is still running.
My cat Luna rubs against the bottom of my legs.
I look into the mirror there is no crack.
I’m safe.
I’m home.
In a flash.
I’m back.

Life before mobile phones and I pads


Were our summers longer?
In the days when there were no mobile phone or games consoles
As a child I all through the school holidays i would leave the house after rushing breakfast or taking it with me,
Running through the woods with a piece of burnt toast in my hand
Toby my dog at my heel
Heading for the huge oak tree at the top of the hill that held our rope swing.

Huge and beautiful ever changing I loved that tree swinging climbing sitting in it’s branches with a book. When we had rope for a swing and a good strong stick I’d sit with my back pressed against it huge trunk at least five feet wide watching as friends swung out over the high drop where the stream ran below.
Bright pink rhodadendron bushes and spiky Holly would break our fall if we fell.
Red Sandy soil tall green grass bright blue sky.
It wasn’t a massive woodland and it was in the middle of a council estate but it was our paradise I loved it.
When it was my turn I’d grab the thick blue rope and swing as high as I could. Legs strieght out leaning back, long hair blowing in the warm summer breeze and for a few minutes I was free, I was flying.

The stream meandered below we would build dams from large stones and sticks the lads would steal cargo nets off the lorries that would park up on east lancs road
Then they would tie them high up between four trees we would bounce about up there it was more luck than our knot tying skills that prevented us from falling!
Crank caverns we’re a few miles from the estate another favourite place I loved it there I’d often set off with a Terry prachett book a bottle of water and walk the few miles spend the day up there.
The lane to the caverns started between two old farm houses Mrs Hewitt one of our teachers lived in one with her daughter Sally she would wave as I passed by. Behind her house where the horses fields and the most beautiful Chestnut mare I’d stop for a chat feeding her handfuls of lush green grass from my side of the fence she couldn’t quite reach. Her warm breath and soft nuzzle rubbing against my face
If I was lucky enough to have custard cream buiscuits I’d share them too and she would rest her huge head on my shoulder and I’d tell her anything and everything. Dogs and horses were always my confidants.
The next part of the walk was through beautiful golden fields thin strieght path through swaying wheat fields I’d sometimes walk into the field and lie down in a cocoon of earthy smelling golden wheat corn or barley reading my book I never felt alone or afraid.
Often falling asleep book in hand . Thankfully never when the combine was working
The caverns (caves) we’re in a small valley surrounded by a small dence disiduous woodland
Trees so close there was places that where almost darkness then another few steps bright sunlight flooded in. I would try to have one food in dark the other in light. Shady and cool on a hot summers day
It was said that the caves were once connected to a hall in Rainford the next village over the years they had become blocked but I would still venture inside as far as I could go.
Feeling my way along the cold stone graffitied walls.

The energy inside there was palpable.
They fasanated me.
I’d stay as long as possible lighting a small fire as night closed in.

No light pollution the sky on a clear night was light a black stary blanket only the sound of crickets and shuffle of nocturnal creatures hedgehogs foxes Badgers
Earthy smell of fallen leaves and thick grass that seemed to grow moss like that was often my bed.
I always slept well outside.
I’m sure this magical place sparked my absolute love of camping, walking and being outside any chance I have.
If you have ever been woken gently by the dawn chorus around you, you’ll know what I mean.
All this magic I was around eleven years old no one missed me whilst I was gone and I know look on that as a blessing.
I always had my dog and carried a small folding pen knife gifted to me by my Nan.
She gave it to me with a wink and a ‘dont tell your mam.’
I’d pull up a swede or carrots peel and eat vegetables taste amazing when eaten as you pick them .
In the next village Rainford there was a huge field of peas
They are one of nicest sweetest things I’ve ever eaten. I’d walk home with my pockets full.
Do my chores then leave again for another adventure.
I’m so very glad I was a sixty’s child
For life was and continues to be beautiful if you go outside look at the sky walk touch the earth talk to animas connect with guardian trees lie in fields of gold
It’s never too late. What are you waiting for?

Just an hour late

Twenty two years since my mam died. I was 31 I had three young children youngest one Mike was five

I had arranged to go down to see Mam after school to see if she felt up to going to spiritualist church there was a medium she had hoped to see but I’d been busy digging up hedges in our front garden all day. So I thought I’d go back finish cleaning the mess I’d made up then go down to Mam with the kids washed clean ready for church.

The last bush was really stubborn, so I tied a rope onto the back of my car and tried to yank it out but as I’m doing it I can hear my mam tutting at me.

‘You should have been a bloody lad’ she says.

I laugh stop the car dragging the hedge behind.

Odd? She’s not there.

I get out to untie the rope I’m covered in soil and leaves as I get up Mams best friend Francis is pulling up in her car.

I know instantly. ‘Mam she’s gone’. Francis is sitting in the passenger seat her husband is driving tears roll down her cheeks she doesn’t answer she doesn’t have to.

‘Without me there’ I shout voice shaking.

I tell the kids to go inside no one speaks.

I ask a neighbour to babysit. It’s a weird feeling, Shock, sort of like being underwater and everything seems to slow down.

Suddenly it’s like your whole world is in a bubble,surreal.

I get into Francis car she holds my hand.

‘It was your dad’ she’s saying. I flush hot, my head feels like its going to explode.

I don’t cry.

Francis talks on the drive over to Mams, only the other side of the village but I’m impatient to get there.

‘Get your mams trolley’ Francis insists she keeps saying it.

‘She told me to tell you if anything happens get the trolley’.

I still don’t speak.

I walk through the corridors in the sheltered housing into the flat.

There is blood on her carpet. ‘Bicarb’ I hear mam say tutting again. ‘Bicarb will get it out’.

Dad is sitting smoking a roll up in the kitchen.

I stand and look at him.

I don’t know for how long.

Francis pulls at my arm. ‘Get the trolley.’

‘For fucks sake’ I hear myself say. ‘Okay. Okay I’ll get it.’

I look around pictures of my children hang on the walls, Mams cardigan where she had left it on her favourite chair.

Without looking I know there will be a blue inhaler in the pocket and a packet of tissues and a lipstick of bloody awful tangerine she insisted ordering monthly from Avon.

I pick it up and hold it to my face and breath in I can smell her perfume.

I put it over the bloody trolley.

‘Where is she?’ I ask. My voice sounds different. Like its external.

‘I told her she’d go out of here in a bloody box’ Dad says. I want to kill him.

I close my eyes. Slowly breathe in.

‘At the hospital’ says Francis.

‘Come on Joolz you need to identify her.’

We leave the flat and head for the hospital. I’m numb.

How do my legs still know how to walk?

Why are clocks still ticking?

Why is the world still turning? MY MAM IS DEAD.

We get to Whiston Hospital sit in waiting room Francis is smoothing creases that aren’t there from her skirt. I read the information on the wall bereavement support. Victim support. We wait for the police.

A tall young police officer and a smaller female officer walk in I can hear Mam again. telling me ‘Police men are getting bloody younger and look at the state of you she saying you need a good bloody wash. Full of soil!’

‘Are you ready’ the lady police officer asksshe’s got a stain on her jacket and I wonder what it is?

I nod. My mouth has gone dry. I can’t speak.

I’m not ready I will never be ready that big black lump is in my throat. I’m so afraid. It can’t be her not my little Mam and I’m praying this is all a bad dream.

They take me in.

She’s on a metal trolley

She will be cold on there I think.

Her hair is stuck with blood. Drying blood.

I want to fix it.

Her hands are covered she’s not wearing her glasses I put my hands on her face. ‘Oh Mam’ I say

The policewoman puts his hand on my shoulder.

I shrug her off.

I pull the sheet back lift up her left hand. Middle nail cracked it always grown like that.

I hear mam beside me telling me the story of how her sister Eliza trapped it in the front door in Brown street. Where she lived as a childI’ve heard this story a million times but I smile and listen again

‘I know mam’ I hear myself say.

She looks so small. ‘I’m so sorry I was late Mam I was pulling up the hedge in the front you hated those hedges didn’t you. Couldn’t get the last one up. I was coming to fetch you with the kids I’ve made your favourite for tea and Michaels got a new reading book.’

‘That medium is on later at church the one you wanted to see.’ Im almost begging.

My little mam. Doesn’t answer. It really is her. How can I possibly leave her here on her own?

I cover her up. The police woman holds me up. ‘Come on’ she says ‘they will look after her.’

I don’t remember walking back to the car or the drive home.

We sit outside Francis tells me there was a massive row dad was drunk again. She sighs ‘He was always drunk’ I sob.

Mam had said he couldn’t make any more home brew in the flat he was repeating everything she said. Mimicking her

Shooting at her with a toy gun that made a noise.

She was on her nebuliser.

Struggling to breathe

She stood up told him to get out was going to ring me. She didn’t get to the phone.

She has massive heart attack hit her head on coffee table

He might as well have had a real gun.

‘Take me to the flat’ I finally said.

‘You’ve got the trolley Francis said don’t go back ‘she sounded scared.

I ring our Michaels dad Mike.

‘Come and get me I’m at the hospital’

Ten mins later Mams trolley in the boot of Mikes car andI’m going back to the sheltered housing.

‘What the fuck happened?’ Mike asks. I tell him. He doesn’t speak.

‘What are you going to do?’

‘I don’t know.’ I answer. ‘But I’m not scared of him anymore I’m furious.’

We walk down the corridor I count our footsteps. I hear my mam.

‘Go home Julie to the kids’ she says.

‘I will in a minute I say out loud,’ Fab I think I’m talking to my bloody self.

I walk into the flat we’ve been gone two hours tops.

Dad is in the bedroom Mams single bed tipped up on its end drawers tipped everywhere clothes strewn everywhere. I stand looking at him.

There’s a banging noise in my head. It’s my heart.

He’s opening boxes looking in pockets of coats.

There is a new toaster and a kettle still in boxes she was planning to leave him.

It’s as though I’m not here I think.‘Can he see me’?

Mikes got hold of my arm.

Dad looks up.

‘Where is it?’ he shouts at me.

I don’t answer or move I stand in the bedroom doorway.

‘Sovereign rings, money, rings jewellery bank books.?’

‘I don’t know I say?’ And I really don’t.

‘She’s dead Mams dead.’ I shout.

He walks over to me.

‘WHERE IS IT ALL?’ he booms.

I feel the spit and beer breath hit my face.

I don’t move or step back he’s furious.

‘TELL ME NOW.’

He lifts his hand as he’s done so many times.

I still don’t move.

Everything slows down.

Mike jumps between us.

Grabs dads big arm and says

‘You’re never going to put your hand on her again.’

I’m stunned!

I look at dad he suddenly doesn’t look as big or scary.

‘Don’t ever, come near me again’ I hear myself say.

I’m picking up mams best jumper.

I pick up a bag put her clothes and shoes in.

Dad looks confused.

I start to take my children’s photos off the wall.

‘What are you doing?’ he shouts.

‘I’m taking back what’s mine.’

‘You don’t get to look at my kids again.’

‘Do not come to the funeral she didn’t want you there.’

Are you happy now you killed her?

I wish she’d have just left you years ago we’d have all been better off you murdering drunken bastard.’

I hear mam laugh.

He sits down hard on the floor.

‘I’m going to a solicitor ‘he shouts ‘I want what’s mine.’

I look at him lean forward and say quietly almost a whisper.

‘I want my mam my kids want their Nan.’

Mike puts his hand on my arm ‘Come on Joolz he’s not worth it.’

He takes mams clothes I carry the photos and we leave.

Francis is getting out of the car it’s a warm evening and Mam should be getting in my car with me now.

She hugs me.

Don’t forget her trolley.

I won’t.

Raven.

Wake up call.

pexels-photo-673862.jpegI’m beyond fed up.

I’m married.

I’m just eighteen, I have a beautiful baby and a vicious bully of a husband.

So far I’ve had broken nose, collar bone, arm and so many bruises I’ve lost count.

I don’t argue anymore.

I keep quiet.

But he’s pissed.

I’ve walked around the block three times to get the baby to sleep.

She’s finally dropped off.

I open the front door gently lift her from her pram almost run as quickly as I can upstairs gently put her in her cot and pull door shut behind me..

Listen

Quiet.

Tip toe down…

Then breathe.

He shouts. I jump. Heart thumping scared look around he hits me hard. My ear rings head bangs on the door frame. I scramble to my feet.

‘Where the fuck have you been?’ he says through gritted teeth smell of whisky wafting in my face splatters me with drunken spit.

I try to turn away. But he’s holding my jaw.

I’m 5’2 his 6, 7 frame towers over me.

‘Shush I plead the baby I stammer. I’ve been walking she’s teething … Needed to get her to sleep.’

I’m almost pleading I’m tired of this.

‘Not now please. Let’s not fight.’

‘Please’ I say again ‘I’ll make you tea.’

He pushes me down I get up again and pull the tansad pram up the front steps and though the front door.

Shutting it to keep the neighbours from witnessing my shame.

I push pram into the lounge he roars everything goes into slow motion he picks it up and throws it. Through the living room window.

Has someone pressed a button?

Glass splinters.

Slowly, shattering.

Pram hood up lands on upside down it’s bends and lands on its side.

I’m holding my breath.

Empty pram.

But he hadn’t checked.

He could have killed my baby.

The horror of the situation hits me.

Was that the wake up button?

He hits me again. And again. I’m numb

And I fall in the glass.

Blood everywhere.

A voice in my head. ‘Get up, get out of here.’

I keep crawling.

‘You lying bitch’ he’s saying as he alks into the kitchen

There’s blood dripping from my nose.

There’s a bang it’s the front door hitting the stair post.

The man who lives in the house opposite

Is standing there. Like a big shadow.

It’s all surreal. I feel sick.

He hold out his hand to me and pulls me up.

Jeff is back with glass of whisky.

‘What the fuck do you want?’

He is furious.

‘You’d better go I stammer to the man.’

He ignores me I’m really scared now.

‘Is this how you keep your women in line in St Helens he says?’

‘Beat the fuck out of them.’

He looks at me. ‘Where is your baby?’

‘Upstairs sleeping’ I manage.

‘What the fuck has it got to do with you?’ Jeff shouts dropping the whiskey and striding towards him.

It all happened so fast.

‘Call an ambulance says the man.’

‘ No I’ll be fine’ I say.

‘Not for you for this dick head’ and he hits Jeff. Knocking him into the lounge onto the broken glass I stand there frozen.

Jeff gets up and he hits him again and again

‘Come on he’s saying or can you only hit girls?’

Then he picks him up and throws him down the path.

‘I’m phoning the police’ Jeff says looking like he’s done a ten round boxing match.

‘No need says the stranger I rang them before I came.’

‘Now take yourself anywhere else but here.’

Just as a police car pulls up outside.

My dress is covered in blood from my broken nose. My face hurts but my baby is okay.

The police are pushing Jeff into the car.

The man is saying Jeff attacked him outside the house.

Police woman asks ‘Is that right?’

‘Yes’ I nod. ‘Did he do this to you?’

‘Yes’ I say.

My dad arrives from up the street. Looks at me with distain.

‘You’ve made your bloody bed lady lie in it.’

The man shakes his head.

‘Bloody idiots lot of them.’ he says.

‘You need to get away from this place’ he says. I smile ‘thank you.’

‘Hospital’ asks the police woman

‘No I’ll be fine I can’t leave my baby. I’ll go later.’

‘Are you sure’. ‘Yes’ I say.

I won’t go too many questions.

I close the door and start to pick up glass.

Look out into the garden at the pram on its hood.

My baby cries from her room.

I have to leave.

I need a plan.

pexels-photo-38136.jpegPregnant, Id took a sample of urine down to the chemist at the bottom shops. I waited as pensioners came in with prescriptions chatted with each other about the weather and the new pebble dashing the council were putting on the houses. What a bloody mess little pebbles everywhere.

I picked up some nail varnish, it was in the sale fifty pence jet black I put it on the counter and stood rattling the change in my hand.

The assistant came through from the back I reached out with the nail varnish and the change. ‘Positive’ she smiled taking the fifty pence. ‘Do you want it in a bag?’

‘No I stuttered it can go in my pocket’ the huge old cash register rang out. As she dropped the change into the drawer.   Signifying the massive change in my life.

I had to go home and pack. ‘Positive’ she said didn’t she?

I have to pack and find somewhere to live. I’m going to be a Mammy.

This time it will be different.

I walked slowly up the hill and through the woods home. It was March it wasn’t cold but I shivered. The woods were just coming alive again trees and bushes squirrels I sat on a log by the stream.

A million thoughts racing through my head.

I cant let Dad find out

Who should I tell?

Should I tell anyone?

I’d tell Mike we were best mates he’d know what to say.

I walked over towards his house he was half way down his street walking towards me I stood and waited for him to get to me.

“Where you going?” he smiled

“I’m just on my way over to yours to pick up my washing.”

Mikes Mam had died a few years ago and my mam had started doing his washing he was working in Fine fare supermarket instore carpet shop and she made sure his shirts were ironed he had to look the part.

We walked back towards the woods. ‘Come and sit by the big oak for a bit.’ I asked.

‘You okay?’ I didn’t answer and we walked along the path towards the big oak tree,

It was like my huge big forever friend, always there I’d climb up sit in the branches with a book hanging from the branch was the rope swing id fell of more times than I can remember.

Mike grabbed the rope and swung out over the bomb hole.

Jet black hair blowing in the breeze whoo whoo he shouted ‘come on jump on as he swung back towards me.

I grabbed the rope and straddled across his legs holding the rope and tilting my head back to feel the breeze. Closing my eyes. The rope creaked.

Birds song distant sound of a lawn mower I loved it here in the woods I lifted my head looked at Mikes smiling face he didn’t look old enough to have a job such a baby face we’d been friends for years we shared a paper round.

He bought me a gold fish for the pond in mams back garden Dad had joked and said we were now engaged as he’d given me a goldfish.

But Mike had more girl friends than any other lad I knew he was so handsome but he was my friend. Best friend.

‘I’m pregnant’ I heard myself say.

Shit it was out there I’d said it.

I jumped off the swing and he jumped off landing awkwardly beside me.

‘Fuck Boo” He yelled.

I looked at him as he sat on the old log at the top of the bank. I watched the rope swing still sway in the breeze.

‘My bloody ankle’

‘What did you just say, pregnant’?

‘SHHHHH!’

‘There’s only us bloody here fucking hell Boo Your Dad is going to kill you!’

I sat beside him, I felt numb. He was right he’d go spare.

Especially if he knew I’d told someone.

‘Can I feel he looked at me and I felt myself smile as he gently put his hand on my belly.

I laughed ‘nothing to feel yet I think I’m about four months’ ‘But it’s still in there he didn’t move his hand’

I stood up

‘Well what are you going to do?’

‘Have a baby Dad can fuck right off, I’m leaving home so don’t say anything yet.’

‘I’m saying nothing!’ he said with an exaggerated scared look on his face

‘Does anyone else know?

‘No and No I don’t have a plan!’

I need a plan’

“You need a fucking plane ticket he joked”

We walked back to the house and through the back gate Dad was in the back garden sawing wood with a band saw, ‘Alright Mr H?’ Dad grunted and carried on sawing Mike looked at me and did that face again running his finger across his neck. I kicked him as he opened the back door.

Mam was in the living room knitting I put the kettle on and Mam came in fussing around Mike and folding up his washing for him and asking him about his job, I sat by the coal fire waiting for the kettle to boil listening to Mike sweet talk my Mam.

Fuck I really do need a plan now!